What is Whole Health Pine River-Backus?

If you want to help support programs like these, please go to our page on the Give to the Max Day website.

Happy Dancing Turtle and our community partners (UMN SNAP-ed, Pine River-Backus Family Center, St. Joseph Foundation) address a big problem with this modest program, Whole Health Pine River-Backus.

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Dave picking strawberries for the CSA shares.

Food insecurity and poor health due to improper nutrition are concerns all across the country.Out of the 87 Minnesota counties, Cass County ranks at 84 for overall health factors and 85 for social and economic factors, according to the 2016 data from countyhealthrankings.org. The Whole Health PRB program strives to bridge the nutrition gap for low-income or otherwise food insecure families and individuals by providing fresh produce and nutrition education.

Food & Water Security Coordinator at HDT, Jim Chamberlin said, “This program helps make that connection between food and health and makes it more clear that healthy food influences human wellness.”

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The HDT Garden Crew had to be meticulously organized keep shares large and on time.

Happy Dancing Turtle provides a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share full of fresh and healthy produce from our 2 acre holistic demonstration garden. Participants attend SNAP-ed cooking classes to learn how to cook and incorporate the vegetables into meals. Each CSA share also has a newsletter with recipes and detailed information about the vegetables in the bag for those unfamiliar with the produce.

The Pine River Backus Family Center provides a valuable role in connecting with the program participants and helping distribute the CSA shares. Whole Health PRB is still a fairly new program, in it’s second year, however we hope in the coming years to expand our reach and effectiveness by increasing capacity and program option.

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Allison R. Whole Health Coordinator

Whole Health Program Coordinator, Allison Rian. said, “I know I’m concerned with what I’m feeding my own kids, what they’re eating daily. But, above all, I think that proper food skills and wanting to use healthy food is all about access.”

Rian continues, “Skill-building is a big part of our program, because our generation is having to relearn some of these basic skills that have been forgotten.”

Currently, we are expanding the program to include a winter program that allows one CSA share a month. There will also be a monthly get-together that will instruct participants on how to properly prepare and serve the produce included in the shares.

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What is the Youth Environmental Education Program?

Happy Dancing Turtle has been sharing about sustainable living topics with children for over a decade. Topics vary widely from recycling and water conservation to pollinators and habitat. The ages that HDT serves range from 4-adult. One of our longest running and most popular kids’ programs is Eco Camp. Eco Camp is a week-long day camp that includes environmental topics, recycled crafts, exploration, and field trips. 

If you want to help support programs like these, please go to our page on the Give to the Max Day website.

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Field trips to the school forest and other outdoor locations offer kids to experience nature in Minnesota.


In 2015, HDT started in-school science education at local schools. These science lessons are aligned with learning standards and periodically supplement the science education in 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. 

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